Clinton campaign finished February in the red

The presidential campaigns filed their FEC reports last night. I wrote about John McCain busting the FEC’s spending cap, a criminal violation, last night. On the Democratic side, Clinton’s report is here and Obama’s is here. Based on the numbers, and it takes a little digging and some math, Hillary Clinton actually finished the month of February (her best fundraising period to date, by far) in the red.

Some background from AP:

Clinton spent $31.6 million in February and had $33 million in the bank, but of that $21.7 could only be used in the general election, according to her FEC filing. Clinton also reported $8.7 million in debts; Obama had $625,000.

A summary page supplied by the Obama campaign reported that he spent $42.7 million in February. He had nearly $39 million cash on hand; more $7 million of it could only be used in the general election.

Clinton’s campaign ended the month with $33.1 million cash on hand. But, that’s deceptive. Clinton has been aggressively raising money for the general election, too. As AP notes, $21.7 million is off limits to the primary campaign. That means her cash on hand is really $11.4 million. In addition, the Clinton campaign reports $8.7 million in debt (including $2.5 million to Mark Penn’s firm) bringing her number down to $2.7 million if she pays the debts. Subtract the $5 million loan she made to herself and we’re talking negative cash balance of -$2.3 million.

On the other hand, Obama had $38.8 million cash on hand at the end of February. Only $7 million is off limits in the primary leaving $31.8 million. The Obama camp had debts of $625,000 and no personal loans to the campaign, meaning he had over $31 million available.

Part of the Clinton strategy of inevitability was built on her fundraising capacity. As superdelegates are looking at electability (the new Clinton standard), they should look at the real story behind the numbers.

Back in the early days of the campaign when Clinton campaigned almost exclusively on her inevitability, she aggressively raised money for the primary and the general election from her large donors, many of whom contributed the maximum $4600 ($2300 for the primary and $2300 for the general). The money from general election contributions cannot be used unless she wins the primary and must be returned to these donors if she doesn’t win.

If Hillary is having this much trouble with a budget of $150 million, how will she handle the federal budget?

On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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